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“A beautiful bowl of glory”: Rancho Gordo’s Steve Sando on beans, trade, and the tortilla project

International trade can wreak havoc on small farmers and the global food culture: impoverishing peasants, destroying old ways of cooking, and reducing biodiversity.  Now and then, however, international trade can have the opposite effect, building up farmers instead of rolling over them, preserving heritage...

Jimmy Stewart, cults, and a lot of broken glass: Remembering Straus Family Creamery’s opening day

By Michael Straus Pictures from opening night at Straus Family Creamery, February 4, 1994. (That's me with the goatee.) Straus Family Creamery recently turned 17, and I started thinking back to those crazy times. In 1989, my older brother Albert, who’d been managing the farm and doing some pretty innovative...

Q&A with Michele Simon — activist, attorney, badass

It's always fun to talk with someone who has such a sense of purpose that she doesn't feel the need to make nice. Michele Simon is one of those people. Let me be clear: Simon, a public health attorney for the Marin Institute, and author of Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and...

Grow vacancies: Gene Fredericks is thinking inside the city’s big box

They're the bane of urban and suburban areas alike: the vacant, boarded-up K-Marts and Home Depot Expos, squatting like concrete cowpies amidst a landscape of weedy parking lots. But where most people see blight and a waste of space, San Francisco Bay Area entrepreneur Gene Fredericks sees opportunity: to...

Cooking outside my comfort zone, Part 2: Fresh chickpeas

Last week, I vowed to escape my farmers market rut and cook outside my comfort zone in honor of National Farmers Market Week Aug 1-7. Farmers markets are spreading like (edible) weeds around the country. There were 5,279 as of 2009 by the USDA's count, up 13 percent from the previous year. The new figures...

When push comes to chèvre at Lucky Penny Creamery

Before Local Roots Market opened late last year, we expected gaps in the products offered. One specific category of products –- cheese –- kept us from limiting our definition of "local" to "within 100 miles" as we weren't sure how many cheesemakers we would find in the area. Boy, were we wrong. Turns out...

Chicken expert Gail Damerow answers newbie questions

Cluck, cluck, cluck. Bwaak! These are not sounds I expect to hear on a stroll in my North Oakland, Calif. neighborhood -- the usual soundtrack is more like thumping bass, sirens, and the rattle of fast-food paper bags. And yet chickens are pecking in backyards on practically every block, in converted sheds...

Must read: Temple Grandin two-part interview

Eats, chutes, and leaves: The well-known expert on humane slaughter dishes up several choice nuggets about how size and line speed aren't the determining factors when it comes to whether a slaughterhouse is "good" or "bad." What's important "is whether people care....There were some that were like the BP of...

Why Anthony Bourdain thinks Jamie Oliver is a hero

Kid-food confidential: Anthony Bourdain may love foie gras, loathe Alice Waters and vegetarians, and enjoy tipping other sacred sustainable-foodie cows, but a recent excerpt from his new memoir, "Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook" reveals that he's two grassfed-beef...

Q&A with John Scharffenberger: First wine, then chocolate, and now … tofu?

Before founding the chocolate company for which he became famous, John Scharffenberger made California sparkling wine. In both cases, he was one of the first Americans to find success in what had been a European-dominated market niche. (Fun fact: Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev used his bubbly to toast...

Two recipes – and lots of opinions – from ‘Farmers Market Desserts’ author Jennie Schacht

Summer fruits from the farmers market are the supermodels of the produce world. Just like Heidi Klum doesn't need makeup to be beautiful, a super-fresh White Lady peach or Seascape strawberry doesn't need extra sweetening or seasoning to shine. But given the right recipe—one designed expressly for fruit and...

Ethicurean’s Marc interviewed on Berkeleyside

Marc my words: Ethicurean co-editor Marc Rumminger talks about which cookbook authors and local-food purveyors he admires for an interview on Berkeley Bites. His personal blog, Mental Masala, was recently named a blog with bite and featured on food rockstar Mark Bittman’s recently launched group site. Yay...

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